March 14, 2014

Explanation of Baha'i Calendar - from The Baha’i World 1930-1932

Among different peoples and at different times many different methods have been adopted for the measurement of time and fixing of dates, and several different calendars are still in daily use, e. g., the Gregorian in Western Europe, the Julian in many countries of Eastern Europe, the Hebrew among the Jews, and the Muhammadan in Muslim countries.

The Báb signalized the importance of the dispensation which He came to herald, by inaugurating a new calendar. In this, as in the Gregorian calendar, the lunar month is abandoned and the solar year is adopted.

The Bahá'i year consists of 19 months of 19 days each (i.e., 361 days), with the addition of certain "intercalary days" (four in ordinary and five in leap years) between the eighteenth and nineteenth months in order to adjust the calendar to the solar year. The Báb named the months after the attributes of God. The Bahá'i New Year, like the ancient Persian New Year, is astronomically fixed, commencing at the March equinox (March 21st), and the Bahá'i era commences with the year of the Báb's declaration (i.e., 1844 A. D., 1260 A. H.).

In the not far distant future it will be necessary that all peoples in the world agree on a common calendar. It seems, therefore, fitting that the new age of unity should have a new calendar free from the objections and associations which make each of the older calendars unacceptable to large sections of the world's population, and it is difficult to see how any other arrangement could exceed in simplicity and convenience that proposed by the Báb. (Dr. J.E. Esselemont, ‘Baha'u'lla'h and the New Era’)

Additional Material Gleaned from Nabil's Narrative (Vol. II), Regarding the Bahá'i Calendar:

The Badí' Calendar (Baha'i Calendar) has been taken by me from the "Kitáb-i-Asmá'," [Book of Names] one of the works written by the Báb. As I have observed in these days that certain believers are inclined to regard the year in which Bahá'u'lláh departed from Baghdád to Constantinople as marking the beginning of the Badí' Calendar, I have requested Mirzá Aqá Ján, the amanuensis of Bahá'u'lláh, to ascertain His will and desire concerning this matter. Bahá'u'lláh answered and said: 'The year sixty A.H. (1844 A.D.), the year of the Declaration of the Báb, must be regarded as the beginning of the Badí' Calendar.' The Declaration of the Báb took place on the evening preceding the fifth day of Jamádíyu'l-Avval, of the year 1260 A.H. It has been ordained that the solar calendar be followed, and, that the vernal Equinox, the day of Naw-Rúz, be regarded as the New Year's Day of the Badí' Calendar. The year sixty, in which the fifth day of Jamádíyu'l-Avval coincided with the sixty-fifth day after Naw-Rúz, has accordingly been regarded as the first year of the Badí' Calendar. As in that year, the day of Naw-Rúz, the vernal Equinox, preceded by sixty-six days the date of the Declaration of the Bab, I have therefore, throughout my history, regarded the Naw-Rúz of the year sixty-one A.H. (the Naw-Rúz immediately following the Declaration of the Báb) as the first Naw-Rúz of the Badí' Calendar. I have accordingly considered the Naw-Rúz of this present year, the year 1306 A.H., which is the 47th solar year after the Declaration of the Báb, as the 46th Naw-Rúz of the Badí' Calendar.

Soon after Bahá'u'lláh had left the fortress of 'Akká and was dwelling in the house of Malik, in that city, He commanded me to transcribe the text of the Badí' Calendar and to instruct the believers in its details. On the very day in which I received His command, I composed, in verse and prose, an exposition of the main features of that Calendar and presented it to Him. The versified copy, being now unavailable, I am herein transcribing the version in prose.

The days of the week are named as follows:

1st: Jalál (Glory) -- Saturday
2nd: Jamál (Beauty) -- Sunday
3rd: Kamál (Perfection) -- Monday
4th: Fiál (Grace) -- Tuesday
5th: ‘Idál (Justice) -- Wednesday
6th: Istijlál (Majesty) -- Thursday
7th: Istiqlál (Independence) – Friday

The names of the months, which are the same as the days of each month, are as follows:

1st: Bahá (Splendor) –- first day: March 21st
2nd: Jalál (Glory) –- first day: April 9th
3rd: Jamál (Beauty) –- first day: April 28th
4th: ‘Aamet (Grandeur) –- fist day: May 17th   
5th: Núr (Light) –- first day: June 5th  
6th: Ramat (Mercy) -- first day: June 24th
7th: Kalimát (Words) -- first day: July 13th
8th: Kamál (Perfection) -- first day: August 1st
9th: Asmá’ (Names) -- first day: August 20th  
10th: ‘Izzat (Might) -- first day: September 8th
11th: Mashíyyat (Will) -- first day: September 27th
12th: ‘Ilm (Knowledge) –- first day: October 16th
13th: Qudrat (Power) -- first day: November 4th
14th: Qawl (Speech) -- first day: November 23rd
15th: Masá’il (Questions) -- first day: December 12th
16thSharaf (Honor) -- first day: December 31st
17th: Sulan (Sovereignty) -- first day: January 19th  
18th: Mulk (Dominion) -- first day: February 7th  
19th: ’Alá’ (Loftiness) -- first day: March 2nd

The Báb has regarded the solar year, of 365 days, 5 hours, and fifty odd minutes, as consisting of 19 months of 19 days each, with the addition of certain intercalary days. He has named the New Year's Day, which is the Day of Naw-Rúz, the day of Bahá, of the month of Bahá. He has ordained the month of ‘Alá to be the month of fasting, and has decreed that the Day of Naw-Rúz should mark the termination of that period. As the Báb did not specifically define the place for the four days and the fraction of a day in the Badí' Calendar, the people of Bayan [Bábis] were at a loss as to how they should regard them. The revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in the city of 'Akká resolved this problem and settled the issue. Baha’u’llah designated those days as the “Ayyám-i-Há” and ordained that they should immediately precede the month of ‘Alá which is the month of fasting. He enjoined upon His followers to devote these days to feasting, rejoicing, and charity. Immediately upon the termination of these intercalary days, Baha'u'llah ordained the month of fasting to begin. I have heard it stated that some of the people of the Bayan, the followers of Mirza Yahya, have regarded these intercalary days as coming immediately after the month of 'A1á, thus terminating their fast five days before the day of Naw-Rúz. This, notwithstanding the explicit text of the Bayan which states that the day of Naw-Ruz must needs be the first day of the month of Bahá, and must follow immediately after the last day of the month of 'Alá. Others, aware of this contradiction, have started their fasting on the fifth day of the month of 'Alá, and included the intercalary days within the period of fasting.

Every fourth year the number of the intercalary days is raised from four to five. The day of Naw-Rúz falls on the 21st of March only if the vernal Equinox precedes the setting of the sun on that day. Should the vernal Equinox take place after sunset, Naw-Rúz will have to be celebrated on the following day.

The Báb has, moreover, in His writings, revealed in the Arabic tongue, divided the years following the date of His Revelation, into cycles of nineteen years each. The names of the years in each cycle are as:

1.           Alif (A.)
2.           Bá (B.)
3.           Ab (Father)
4.           Dál (D.)
5.           Báb (Gate)
6.           Váv (V.)
7.           Abad (Eternity)
8.           Jád (Generosity)
9.           Bahá (Splendor)
10.        ubb (Love)
11.        Bahháj (Delightful)
12.        Javáb (Answer)
13.        Aad (Single)
14.        Vahháb (Bountiful)
15.        Vidád (Affection)
16.        Badí (Beginning)
17.        Bahí (Luminous)
18.        Abhá (Most Luminous)
19.        id (Unity)

Each cycle of nineteen years is called Aáhid. Nineteen cycles constitute a period called Kull-i-shay'. The numerical value of the word "Vahid" is nineteen, that of "Kull-i-shayis 361. "Váhid" signifies unity, and is symbolic of the unity of God.

The Bab has, moreover, stated that this system of His is dependent upon the acceptance and good-pleasure of "Him Whom God shall make manifest." One word from Him would suffice either to establish it for all time, or to annul it forever. (The Baha’i World 1930-1932)